Juba: South Sudan's first mini-refinery will start with an initial capacity of 10,000 barrels a day and double this in a few years, the oil ministry said.

The new African republic signed in October a deal with U.S. firm Ventech Engineers International to build a first refinery in Upper Nile state, home to the country's biggest oilfields.

South Sudan, one of the world's least developed countries, wants to end dependency on refineries and export pipelines in neighbour Sudan from which it seceded in July 2011.

"It (the refinery) will have an initial capacity of 10,000 barrels per day throughput, and the ministry also plans to expand it to 20,000 barrels per day throughput capacity in a few years," Oil Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said in a statement received on Saturday. The refinery would be finished within 10 months, he said.

In September, landlocked South Sudan agreed with Sudan to resume oil production after shutting down its entire output of 350,000 bpd in January in a conflict over oil fees.

Oil exports through Sudan's pipelines were meant to resume by the end of the year but new tensions broke out last week between the neighbours, threatening the schedule.

(Agencies)

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